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Legg Mason laying off bulk of auditing staff

Legg Mason will be laying off about 20 employees in its auditing department in Baltimore, the company said Tuesday. The 20 employees are the bulk of the firm’s auditing staff.

The money manager will work with a separate, large accounting firm in a co-sourcing arrangement to fill this function. Legg Mason would not disclose the name of the other firm.

“It made the most sense for an accounting firm… to handle this function for us,” spokeswoman Mary Athridge said in an interview.

The 20 employees will be transferred out as of Jan. 1 and will be able to apply for other positions in the company, if appropriate. A few members of the auditing staff will stay.

The decision to reorganize the department was made as part of a broader effort to rethink the company’s processes, Athridge said. The company has been making changes over recent quarters as a result of this effort.

Last week, the company reported earnings for the quarter ending Sept. 30, which CEO Joseph Sullivan said showed progress after several years of struggle for Legg Mason.

“We’ve come a long way over this past year of transition,” said Sullivan in a conference call Friday. “We are all pleased with that progress, but we are not satisfied.”

Athridge said that the auditing reorganization is not contrary to that statement of progress, but attests to the ongoing necessity for improvement.

Legg Mason has about 3,100 employees throughout its 31 offices internationally. The Baltimore office, which includes the auditing department, had about 387 employees as of Sept. 30.